Bow hunters to share woods with gun hunters earlier in season

Published 12:00 am Sunday, June 27, 2010

NATCHEZ — Local bow hunters will have to deal with hunting alongside guns a little earlier this hunting season.

The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks announced in a press release Friday that bow hunters would be allowed to continue using a bow during gun season. However, the department also announced it would be adding an earlier primitive gun season to the calendar that would coincide with bow hunting season, on days previously exclusive to bow hunters.

The decision came on the heels of an opinion of Section 49-7-37 of the Mississippi Code by Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. That opinion stated that the MDWFP does not have the authority to allow hunters to use archery equipment during gun season.

The MDWFP responded by creating a longer archery season, along with an earlier primitive gun season for antlerless deer only. Bryon Garrity, a local bow hunter, said the decision spells both good and bad news for hunters that like to use archery equipment.

“Since they made it for antlerless deer only, it’s not going to challenge the bow hunters for trophy bucks,” Garrity said.

“By the same token, though, it’s going to put guns in the woods sooner, so it’ll give the deer a heads up and make them more jumpy sooner in the season.”

Garrity said he’s OK with the decision by the MDWFP, but at the same time, he wishes bow hunters would still get longer to hunt without gun hunters alongside in the woods.

“I think it’s as good a tradeoff as we can expect, because (bow hunters) could’ve lost the opportunity to hunt during gun season altogether. I’m still disappointed, though, because I would have rather them put the muzzleloader season somewhere else and leave the first bow season where it was,” he said.

Derrick Dungan, a Vidalia resident that bow hunts in Mississippi regularly, wasn’t quite as optimistic about the new regulations.

“In my opinion, between the crossbow hunters and the guys that only hunt with guns, and the legislation, there won’t be any bow hunting in a few years,” Dungan said.

“Basically all that’s being done is, they’re trying to shove the real bow hunter out of the way. It’s even getting to where the working class man won’t be able to hunt anymore. It’ll be too expensive. The more they take away and the more prices go up, the less people will be able to afford it.”

With the crossbow issue, Dungan said it’s a case of people who want easy killings instead of having a challenge while in the woods.

“You have a lot of people that don’t bow hunt because they won’t take the time to practice with a bow. But you can take anyone off the street with a crossbow that has a scope and a rifle setup, and within 30 minutes, you can have them hitting (game),” he said.

The MDWFP said in its press release that it would create an earlier primitive gun season to “help reduce the surplus deer populations.” Dungan doesn’t agree with that logic when it costs him time in the woods without gun hunters, he said.

“Why put more people in the woods? Why not lengthen the season? How come you can’t open it September 15 through the end of February?” Dungan said.

“I know the rebuttal will be: ‘Well, the does in this area are already impregnated.’ Well, guess what? That deer you took out, you were going to have an extra deer in your herd.”

When it comes to Hood’s opining over archery hunting season, Garrity said he thinks it’s a political move more than anything.

“I think Jim Hood is about to run for governor, and he’s trying to exercise his political muscle in any way he sees fit,” Garrity said.

“I’m going to obey whatever regulations or laws are passed no matter what, but if he continues along this line and later runs for governor, I won’t vote for him.”

To read the MDWFP’s press release, go to http://home.mdwfp.com/ContentManagement/Html/htmldownload.aspx?id=688.